AN Irish lecturer has been stabbed to death by a former student in Paris just yards outside the university where he taught English for the last two decades.
John Dowling, 66, was stabbed repeatedly in the neck outside Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci in Courbevoie as he left for lunch at around 12pm on Wednesday afternoon.
The Dublin native died at the scene of the attack around 8km (5 miles) northwest of central Paris.
According to French media, the private university cancelled all classes in the wake of the incident and a "psychological cell" was set up for students traumatised by the killing.
A former student, identified as a 37-year-old Pakistani national who was expelled from the institution last year, is in police custody.
Professeur qui aurait été poignardé devant le Pôle Leonard De Vinci
⚠️ Info à prendre avec des pincettes pic.twitter.com/qvXUBsYBg3
— RK🐯 (@iamrkvin) 5 December 2018
The knife used in the attack was found at the scene in front of a well-known statue of a thumb by the sculptor César.
The judiciary police of the Hauts-de-Seine département are investigating the case.
The motive for the killing is unknown, but the suspect is believed to have targetted the English language teacher specifically in a possible "revenge" attack.
Head of the university, Pascal Brouaye, said the Irish academic was looking forward to his upcoming retirement.
"It's a tragedy that affects the entire community," Mr Brouaye told The Local France.
"He was a language teacher who had been here for 20 years and was appreciated by everyone."
Pour votre gouverne, Mr John DOWLING ne vous aimait pas et serrait attristé de voir comment vous vous servez ainsi de lui pour répandre votre haine.
— Hyepod (@hyepod) 5 December 2018
A former student told Paris Match: "Everyone liked him. He was a profoundly kind person. No one understands why he was attacked, though some people are talking about ‘revenge’".
Another added: "You could never imagine this could happen in our school, to one of our teachers.
"I am deeply shocked and terrified."
France's Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal issued a statement expressing her "intense emotion and profound indignation" over the killing.
"Emotion and indignation as a professor has just been murdered at the Léonard-de-Vinci university center," she said.
"We need to find out the circumstances surrounding his death during the investigation being conducted by the judicial police."
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.